Monday, September 12, 2005

Remembering the Victims

As we remember the three thousand who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa., let’s not forget that they were only the first of 9/11’s victims.

Without the 9/11 attacks, the invasion of Iraq wouldn’t have been possible. According to former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, the Bush Administration was from the very start developing plans to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. What they lacked was a rationale. O’Neill described one NSC meeting this way:

It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.’

9/11 gave Bush what he was looking for: public and Congressional support for invading Iraq as part of the “War on Terror”. As a result, 1896 American servicemen and –women have lost their lives in Iraq, along with 197 other members of Coalition forces and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. These too are victims of 9/11.

And that may not be all. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, a third of the Louisiana National Guard was in Iraq, along with half its equipment, including high-water vehicles, generators and Humvees. Rescue efforts were delayed as troops had to be called in from other states. We’ll never know how many died waiting for help that would have come in time had the Louisiana Guard been at full strength.

The Bush team has been telling us for years that the proper measure of our response to the horror of 9/11 is how we felt on that day. It's been all too easy to turn our grief and anger into a conviction that the enormity of the wrong done to us justifies any response.

Three thousand died four years ago at the hands of a small band of fanatic terrorists. Perhaps ten times as many have died since, because a small band of fanatic neoconservatives were allowed to use the terrorists’ crimes as a pretext for their own adventurism.

They’re all victims of 9/11 and we mustn’t forget a one of them.